I once saw a musical – Children of Eden – in which a giant snake plays a central role. It slithered and meandered around the stage in pieces. One actor played the talking head, garbed in a glittery jumpsuit, to portray the beauty of Satan before The Fall. The body was a large silvered tail handled by 5 other actors all dressed in the invisibility of black. They coiled and cavorted behind the head, twisting and dipping but never connecting. That separation fascinated me – that constant bit of ‘white space’ between the two. It was in that wiggle room where art took over. The snake completely sold the audience. It was my favorite part of the show.
History is full of creative duos. Some spurred each other on through competition – others through unity and collaboration. Joshua Wolf Shenk’s “Powers of Two” (Aug 2014) highlights the collaborative process through many notable dyads: Lennon and McCartney, Jobs and Wozniak, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, Wilbur and Orville Wright, Matisse and Picasso.
Many others come to mind: Woodward and Bernstein, Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan, Mel Brooks and Gene Wilder, even Rocky and Bullwinkle. The list goes on. But one team most people have never heard of is the artistic pairing of Bezalel and Oholiab. Funny names? That’s because they lived 3300 years ago in the south Sinai Desert. They were tasked with the construction of the Tabernacle – the mobile predecessor of King Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem. The Book of Exodus sets the creative pair in historic context:
When I’m stuck I often think of Michelangelo’s Captives – the four unfinished sculptures lining the Hall of Prisoners at the Galleria dell’Accademia in Florence. They writhe and grimace within their marble prisons as they lead visitors towards Michelangelo’s more famous “David”. And then there he is, at the end of the hall under a circle of light – one of the most celebrated pieces of art of all time. To me, that hallway and the placement of those marble-bound slaves depict the struggle that ultimately gives way to a masterpiece. [Read more…]
Creativity makes my soul sing. The word itself feels good on my lips. Its syllables stretch my mouth even as they stir my imagination. Someone once asked me what my favorite word was. I have dozens. Amphibian. Onomatopoeia. Babushka. Coif. Guffaw. Zither. But Creativity tops the list. It’s the plucking of the chord that brings music to my inner ear. It’s the coalescing of colors on a page that delights my eyes. It’s the flight of my fingers across a keyboard that transforms mental images into words and thoughts and scenes. It’s the thrill of discovery.